America’s oldest living president — though the only one older than Donald Trump, and the only one to live as long as he has — sent out a statement today regarding the murder of Minneapolis man George Floyd at the hands of four now-former police officers.
Jimmy Carter rounded out the commentary from America’s former executives, and his was perhaps the most poignant, having served the longest ago and therefore closer to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and 1970s that created much of the framework for the community building and even protesting you’re seeing right now.
But it is perhaps also the saddest of all the statements issued by former presidents, having himself called for a timely end to injustice in his own inaugural speech as Governor of Georgia 46 years ago when he said that “the time for racial discrimination is over.”
It wasn’t over then, and we’ve more than come to terms with the fact that it still isn’t over now: Yes, the tragic death of George Floyd set off the firestorm currently sweeping America, but how much were the flames fanned by the vigilante killing of Ahmaud Arbery? By the recent memory of Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Charleena Lyles, and every black and brown person of every age that has been racially targeted and murdered by the very people tasked with keeping them safe?
Mr. Carter was long out of office before killings of people of color by the police even became high-profile, but as a long-suffering proponent of justice, Jimmy has prayed and suffered alongside us.
His statement today reflected as much. In part, it reads:
The bonds of our common humanity must overcome the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.
Since leaving the White House in 1981, Rosalynn and I have strived to advance human rights in countries around the world. In this quest, we have seen that silence can be as deadly as violence. People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say ‘no more’ to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy. We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations.
We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this.”
Powerful words from a guiding light yesterday and today.
Featured image via screen capture
Like what you see here? Join the discussion on Facebook over at Americans For Sanity!